I have been holding my breath for months, and definitely in recent weeks. With no deal on the horizon and just a handful of matches left, Rafa Benitez is set to run out his contract at the end of the season with no future at the club. Despite having reportedly been offered around £50m for players per season.
For Rafa that is not enough. And in the eyes of some in the media, that isn’t enough. While £50m is more than Rafa has been given in the past, and I think he can get the club to a good place with it, that equates to £25m a window.
If these are the terms, with little to no information coming out regarding renovations to the club’s training grounds or improvements to the academy, it leaves me with no doubt as to where the future of Rafa Benitez lies.
Not with Newcastle United.
The thing is, Rafa can very possibly win another trophy before he chooses to retire in around 11 years, coaching until he turns about 70 years old. He’s winding down his career in management, and if Newcastle United can’t give him the swan song he’s going to be looking for as he prepares to leave, then he cannot remain here.
What’s best for the club is Rafa. But Newcastle United is far from what is best for Rafa Benitez.
The clock is ticking, and Rafa has laid out his cards in the ongoing poker game with Mike Ashley. It’s a straightforward strategy, and the media has even helped him in this. It is well known that if Rafa walks, the suitors will be lining up to sign him. With the way that Chelsea is headed, there is even potential for a move to Chelsea. If Rafa walks, he will have no issue getting a job, and likely with a club that will give him his demands.
It seems more and more as if Rafa working for Newcastle is a charity effort. A club that seemingly has no place in the top ten is asked for just a little bit more ambition and more investment to let a world-class manager work his magic, and they can’t even do that.
Mike Ashley has made no commitment to even the smallest demands from Rafa, and that’s a telling sign that Rafa Benitez may no longer have a place at Newcastle United. While I’d like to see what Rafa can do with a £50m budget, it’s will do nothing to ameliorate the situation that Newcastle finds itself year after year. That’s a relegation battle.
If Rafa is to stay, Ashley will have to increase that number to at least £75m and commit to a better training ground or at least a better academy with promises that with more money that ground will be improved. Without these, Rafa will leave.
And it’s in my opinion that he will be walking as soon as his contract is up.